- Created on Friday, 20 September 2013 19:45
- Hits: 228
By LIANE ABBEY
For Niagara region residents who commute using transit, the integrated Niagara Region transit program may provide a more easily accessible unified ride.
The three-year pilot program that started in 2011 connects Niagara’s three largest municipalities Welland, St. Catharines, and Niagara Falls to smaller municipalities including Port Colborne, Niagara-on-the-Lake, Thorold and Fort Erie.
With only a flat rate of $6 per ride, students and commuters could benefit from this integrated transit program.
However, the program that seems to be trying to be like the Durham Region transit amalgamation and the Waterloo Region transit amalgamation has not yet seen the same results.
Regional Chair Gary Burroughs says that the program is not financially viable at this time but he believes in its success.
“I think it’s critical to our Niagara region to bring communities together. We need a transit system that unites residents from all over the region.”
Burroughs says that transit will certainly be his focus in coming years.
Municipalities such as Grimsby, Lincoln, West Lincoln, Pelham, and Wainfleet are still excluded from the program.
Mike Ravensbergen, 19, of Smithville, says that he car pools to and from Niagara College’s Welland campus with peer Elik MacPhee, 30 minutes every day.
“The biggest benefit [of available transit] would be saving money.”
Student rider Mohamad Ali and Chantelle Duchesne live off campus and explain the transit system is essential to the education system of Niagara College.
Ali, 28, of the English as a Second Language program, says he uses transit every day to get to and from school.
Duchesne, 19, of the Pre-Health program, says, “I take the bus to save on gas, and parking.”
Duchesne says she takes the bus every weekday. “It’s a free ride to school and a free ride home.”
The bus pass, called a U-Pass, is paid for by student fees and provides students with unlimited transit transportation during the school year.
With the tail end of the pilot approaching, Kumar Ranjan, the Region of Niagara’s associate director Transportation Planning, says that he is looking into other options with the Transportation Strategy Steering Committee. “Obviously, it’s [Regional transit] not making as much as it should.”
These options include termination of the pilot, retention and potential expansion of the inter-municipal pilot, One Transit: operated and governed by a single entity and One Transit, which would be operated by a collaboration of private and public sector participants.